The Courier’s inaugural Business Awards can be summed up as glitz, glamour, Gyles and great companies.
The event at the stunning Fairmont St Andrews Resort on Friday evening proved an overwhelming success as almost 500 local business people and their glammed-up guests gathered to celebrate the best of business in east central Scotland.
There was a sense of real anticipation and excitement as guests mingled at the pre-awards drinks reception before being piped through to the hotel’s huge atrium, where they were welcomed by Courier editor Richard Neville and heard from David Smith, managing partner with principal sponsor Henderson Loggie.
Guests seated at 48 tables stretching the length and breadth of the hall were treated to an amazing three-course meal before settling in for the main event.
- Photo gallery: Courier Business Awards 2013
- Photo gallery: Around the tables at The Courier Business Awards 2013
- Photo gallery: The winners at The Courier Business Awards 2013
Our inimitable host — television broadcaster, polymath and former Treasury minister Gyles Brandreth — quickly had the audience in raptures with his high society tales, including the time he stood as co-signatory with The Queen on a £136 billion cheque.
But his real focus for the evening was commercial life in Tayside, Fife, Stirlingshire and the Mearns.
He praised local businesses — especially small and medium-sized companies like many of those in attendance at the event — for their resilience and fortitude as they successfully traded their way through the economic downturn of recent years.
He spoke of his delight at seeing a new generation of young entrepreneurs come through as green shoots of growth started to appear.
And he spoke of better times ahead for east central Scotland as it played a key role at the vanguard of the UK’s continuing economic recovery.
Turning to the awards at hand, Gyles said the shortlist was proof positive of the strength in depth of the local business world.
The first prize of the evening — which prompted a huge cheer from the floor of the hall — went to Morton of Pitmilly Countryside Resort of Fife for its outstanding tourism offer.
Invergowrie-based Mylnefield Research Services — a company which bred the blackcurrant strain used in Ribena — took the agriculture award, before Nethergate-based STAR-Dundee scooped the digital excellence award for its work on the SpaceWire system, which is now standard technology used by Nasa and other global space exploration agencies.
The retail award went to Fife-based leather satchel and antique goods company Scaramanga Trading — named in tribute to founder Carl Morenikeji’s favourite James Bond villain — while the life sciences award went to Alva’s Omega Diagnostics, which is in the latter stages of developing a new hand-held test which can indicate if a person has contracted HIV.
The manufacturing prize went to Dundee’s PressureFab Group — the first of a trio of wins for the impressive Riverside-based outfit, which also scooped the growth award and business leader of the year prize for its entrepreneurial founder Hermann Twickler.
The social impact award went to Fife-based paper and packaging producer Tullis Russell, while the young business prize went to Laurencekirk-based Newlife Fitness Club, making it a double celebration as the gym reached its first birthday the same day.
Employer of the year went to the Hillcrest Group of Companies.
Finally, a hush passed through the room as Gyles set about describing The Courier’s overall Business of the Year winner for 2013.
The audience erupted in applause as a stunned Professor Steve Parkes rose to accept the prize for STAR-Dundee.
Alliance Trust chief executive Katherine Garrett-Cox presented Prof Parkes with his second trophy of the evening as the strains of David Bowie’s Starman resonated throughout the hall.
An appropriate end to an evening which was truly out of this world.